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Jean-Paul Sartre: A Life (Lives of the Left) Paperback – May 16, 2005

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Paperback, May 16, 2005
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Product Details

  • Series: Lives of the Left
  • Paperback: 602 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; Reprint edition (May 16, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565849744
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565849747
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,216,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A magic appropriation...This is what it felt like to be a child of Sartre's century. -- Newsweek

An intimate portrait of the man that possesses all the detail and resonance of fiction. -- The New York Times

Definitive. -- Vanity Fair

Lively and astute; [Cohen-Solal] has uncovered remarkable personal details. -- The Wall Street Journal

Spirited and imaginative...on a grand yet intimate scale. -- Booklist

This remarkable, intimate biography shows that the existentialist idol had feet of clay, without in any way diminishing his greatness. -- Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Annie Cohen-Solal received her PhD in French literature from the Sorbonne. She is a professor at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and chair of American Studies at the University of Caen. She lives in Paris. Cornel West is University Professor of Religion at Princeton University and the author of, most recently, Democracy Matters.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By francis lemfield on April 11, 2012
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Though I've been fascinated by Sartre for years, I am not a Sartre scholar, and so wanted to read a good biography of him. And this surely fit the bill.
Though I don't necessarily agree with a number of his positions, the vast scope of his life, through a period of great tumult and upheaval, provided enough food for thought for five people. The development of his thought I found was handled excellently, and the details like a painter's background which expand on the main theme were beautifully woven in.
The child is father to the man - Sartre teaching high school, allowing smoking, not giving tests, yet his students at the year-end national exams doing as well as any others, was a beautiful portrait of the great thinker to be.
Again, I'm not passing judgment on his life. It was a difficult period for France, Europe, and the world. Yet as a biography of a philosopher, for someone like me who is but an educated layperson, it was excellent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. Jamison VINE VOICE on December 1, 2013
This is a new edition of a biography first published in the US in 1987. Still it shows some of the advantages of modern biography in the ability of the author to put together her time spent - six years - with the subject Jean-Paul Sartre - as well as a wealth of resources. As she describes it, many of the found texts are paper copies of previously lost texts which she thinks are just a few of many still lost. In any case, these are used mostly in the beginning as we are learning about the earlier than 30 year old Sartre and the texts he wrote before the publication of Nausee and Le Mur. But like other biographies of philosophers, I am thinking of Ray Monk, the digging into the previously lost materials helps us learn more intriguing aspects of the man and his relationships with his friends and colleagues. Was Sartre really the most significant philosopher of his age? What about Heidegger? Annie points out how much of his significant philosophical work is really a critique of Heidegger - which is a point I have heard before. If so, and considering how close they were in their time - and Heidegger returned from prison to teach still for years after the war, then perhaps the claim should be limited to saying Sartre was the most important French philosopher - which is still quite a feat. Annie also describes Being and Nothingness as targeted more at the specific situation Sartre was in under the Nazi occupation instead of a response to Being and Time. That certainly ought to be more of a detailed study I think. I am trying to think where Zlavoj Zizek works on Sartre's Being and Nothingness in his book Less than Nothing and it seems to me his focus is much more on Heidegger and Hegel. How about Alain Badiou in his Being and Event? Again, how much Sartre is a target of that?Read more ›
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